Because my favorite island of all isn’t as commercialized as its surrounding islands, the Big Island doesn’t have the giant malls and shopping centers that you’d find on Oahu or even Maui. However, there are still plenty of shopping adventures to be found. From trend-setting resort shops along the Kohala Coast to the Wal-Mart in Hilo, the Big Island has enough venues to satisfy the shopaholic in you.
Grab an eco friendly woven basket and indulge in all of the aromatic fruits these farmers markets have to offer:
Kailua Village Farmer's Market offers an abundance of island flowers such as leis, tiki plants and torch ginger, There’s also produce such as the freshest papaya and mangos you can buy, macadamia nuts and real Kona coffee. Every Thursday, Friday, Saturday and Sunday. Across from Hale Halawai, Kailua-Kona.
Alii Gardens Marketplace Come see the ware of more than 50 merchants, where you’ll find jewelry made from local artisans, wood carvings from samoa, and some of the best hair ornaments around. There are T shirts and sarongs, and practically anything your heart desires. They offer succulent starfish fruit, luscious mango, juicy guava and more Cooked food is also for sale. On Alii Drive, 2 miles south of Kailua Bay Pier. Wed.-Sun., 9am-5pm. Info: (808) 334-1381
Keauhou Farmer's Market
Every Saturday, from 8:00AM to noon at Keauhou Shopping Center, fronting Ace Hardware. All products are home grown in Hawaii - fruits, vegetables, flowers, coffee, macadamia nuts & more. Music too! This is a fun one, but why not make a morning of it and try all three?
Kings Shops in Waikoloa
The Big Island’s most exciting collection of shopping, dining and services can be found at Kings’ Shops. You’ll discover everything from high-end boutiques and one-of-a-kind jewelry to art galleries to designer wear and spectacular gift stores for souvenirs. They have Macy’s here, and a Starbuck’s, as well as a duty-free shop plus a handful of dining options, from award-winning Pacific Rim cuisine to on-the-go snacks. It’s 75,000-square-foot of shopping, dining and even entertainment. It’s a great place to go to take part in lei-making as one of their hands-on activities, and even to learn the hula. The Kings’ Shops is 20 minutes north of Kona International Airport within Waikoloa Beach Resort on the Kohala Coast. Open daily from 9:30 a.m. to 9:30 p.m. www.kingsshops.com or
Keauhou Shopping Center
Seven miles from Kailua-Kona on Alii Drive, theKeauhou Shopping Center, brings you more than 40 shops and restaurants as well as a state-of-the-art multiplex movie theater. Among the items you’ll find here are the latest fashion apparel, swimwear, specialty shops, convenience stores and more. 78-6831 Alii Drive, Keauhou. (808) 322-3000. www.keauhoushoppingcenter.com
My family has been eating at Huggo’s for more than 25 years! It’s a real, kick-back, casual eatery right on the ocean off Alii Drive in Kona. They have some of the best cocktails ever, and they serve up light entrees but the besy bet is to go for their fish and chips and burgers. 75-5828 Kahakai Rd., Kailua-Kona. (808) 329-1493. www.huggos.com
I think this is the best place for 100% Kona coffee and espresso drinks. Stop here for an iced- café mocha or a cool latte. Surprisingly, they also serve wonderful breakfasts, including breakfast wraps and pancakes with coconut syrup. This is also a great place to order a nice salad for lunch as you “people watch” or take a break from the surf. You can also get on-line for free. 75-5799 Alii Dr., Kailua-Kona, HI. (808) 327-2161. www.islandlavajava kona.com.
This is my very favorite place to eat on the Big Island. It’s all about Japanese food at its very best. Shizuko Teshima has a strong following among those who have made her miso soup and sukiyaki an integral part of their lives. The early morning crowd starts gathering for omelets or Japanese breakfasts (soup, rice, and fish) while it's still dark outside. As the day progresses, the orders pour in for shrimp tempura and sukiyaki. By dinner, sashimi, sukiyaki and mahi-mahi are streaming out of the kitchen. 79-7251 Mamalahoa Hwy, Honalo. (808) 322-9140.
Sheraton\ Keauhou Bay & Resort
It’s been around for a long time nad has recently been renovated so it looks brand new. It was known as the Kona Surf back in the 80’s, and they had to do the renovation due to hurricanes. It is literally on-the-edge of the black lava cliffs, crowning an ancient lava flow cascading into the waters along Hawaii's Big Island. This gorgeous hotel offers everything from rejuvenating spa treatments to an authentic luau.
This resort is perfect for family vacations or Hawaii honeymoons. With Hawaii Volcanoes National Park within a day's drive and diverse landscapes at every turn, this is where you belong. 78-128 Ehukai Street, Kona, HI, (808)716-8109 www.sheratonkeauhou.com
This is the hotel with the boat running through it. This is also the hotel where you can kiss a dolphin! A 62 acre resort, the Hilton Waikoloa offers so many different activities for the entire family. The layout is spectacular. You’ll be in the midst of beautiful tropical gardens, a river, and several shops. Also, the pool is absolutely huge, with a waterfall, and water slide for the kids and several hot tubs for busy parents. It costs more to stay here, but sometimes that’s worth it. Please contact the hotel concierge at (808) 886-1234, extension 2715 (8 a.m. to 4 p.m. daily, Hawaiian Standard Time), or by email: info.hiltonwaikoloavillage.com.
No phones, no faxes and no TV. Kona Village lies within the site of an ancient Hawaiian fishing village on 82 private acres at Kahuwai Bay along the Big Island’s Kohala Coast. Established in 1965, the resort is home to 125 thatched-roof bungalows called hale (ha-lay). Each is reflective of Polynesian architectural styles. Nestled around lush lagoons and pristine white and black sand beaches, you will enjoy the quiet life in a luxury of surroundings. They offer vacation fun from water sports (snorkeling, diving, kayaking, deep sea fishing and more) to cultural and historical exploration. www.konavillage.com. From Kona International Airport:
Turn LEFT onto Queen Ka‘ahumanu Highway #19. Travel approximately 6 miles at which point you'll see the entrance on the right side of the road for the Veterans Cemetery. Travel approximately .5 additional miles, get in to the 2nd Left Turn Lane, which allows you to turn LEFT off of Queen Ka‘ahumanu Highway onto Ka‘upulehu Drive which is at the Hualalai Resort entrance. Make an immediate RIGHT turn and follow the road to Kona Village Resort’s “Village Gate,” approximately 1 mile. Proceed to Resort’s front drive, approximately 1 mile.
More Outdoor Fun
Surfing is the ancient tradition of the Hawaiians.The feeling of riding an ocean wave will last a lifetime. Hawaii Lifeguard Surf Instructors (H.L.S.I.) is committed to perpetuating the heritage of surfing and the Hawaiian culture with aloha and a safety first attitude. Surfing is Hawaii's gift to the world! Learn how to surf with their trained and certified Hawaii lifeguards.
Surfing, Lifesaving Skills, Water Safety Awareness and much more...
Come learn the ancient skills of the Hawaiians from experienced surfers and lifesavers. H.L.S.I. Welcome Surfers of ALL ages & Skill Levels for a FUN and Educational DAY of the ultimate Ocean Experiences.You will be provided everything that you need to have the best and safest surfing lesson of your life: HLSI Team Instruction, surfboard, surf leash, protective footwear, rash guard and as a souvenir, your very own personalized official Hawaiian Wave Certificate." $115 gets you a two hour surfing lesson. Surflessons.yahoo.com. 866-324-0422.
Mauna Kea Volcanoes National Park
The ultimate Volcano trip! It’s a real must for anyone coming to the Big Island. You’ll hike in Volcano-land, where coarse lava rock surrounds you, letting you know you’re in truly exotic territory, and that the Big Island is constantly growing---changing shape as lava folds into the sea with a hiss. Depending on when you arrive at Volcanos National Park, you may see steam clouds created by the molten lava entering the ocean, glowing lava fields, and in-your-face, actually flowing lava rivers. It gets really, really hot, so stay back and be warned. The Deep Hawaii Volcano Hiking Trip includes transportation from Kona, daypack, snacks, beverages, ice, and guide. 8 am - 5 pm. $280 will score you a killer volcano tour hike and there’s even overnight lodging steps away from the crater! (808) 966-6916 or (808) 938-4042
Mauna Kea Observatory
Strange but true , it really does snow in Hawaii! That’s why Mauna Kea means “White Mountain.” Mauna Kea is a dormant volcano that last erupted approximately 4000 years ago. Now, you can even ski down Mauna Kea’s slopes in your bikini or swim shorts if you can handle the high altitude and extreme conditions during the winter months. On the summit you will be in awe as you take in a panaoramic view of Hawaii and spectactular views of the horizon! You'll experience the spiritual energy of what many Hawaiians believe to be the most sacred place in all the islands. At the summit you'll stand on top of the world's tallest mountain which rises from the ocean floor to over 31,000 feet high on the Big Island. It’s even taller than Mt. Everest! Because of the high altitude, keep an eye on the kids as they might get dizzy! Because of its combination of high altitude, clear air, and absence of light, Mauna Kea is home to many international observatories. The W.M. Keck Observatory on the summit of Mauna Kea is home to the twin Keck Telescopes, the world's largest optical and infrared telescopes! Bring the family and see why stargazing atop Mauna Kea is such an unforgettable experience. http://www.ifa.hawaii.edu/mko/
Quicktip: No matter where you are on the island or even if it is overcast, sunscreen is necessary because we’re so close to the equator here. The sun is not very forgiving, so aim to use an SPF of 40, even if you have olive skin like mine. Nothing is worse than paying a few thousand dollars on a vacation and ending up looking and feeling like a miserable lobster! You may wan to carry aloe vera gel with you too, in case you do get a bit toasted,
Connie Werner Reichert was inducted into the International Travel Writers & Photographers’ “Wall of Fame” in 2008. Please send your comments at Connieis.pacbell.net. Follow the former Radio Personality & TV Newscaster/Producer/Newswriter on Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn and Chickipedia. Her blog is at http://conniereichert.livejournal.com.